Is that all there is?
The 25-year-old Lindsay Lohan's “comeback” has been heavily promoted – in a Today show interview, in an appearance playing Pictionary on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and in a variety of teasers.
The teasers were for her already-infamous hosting job on Saturday Night Live early in March. As many of us know, she fared disastrously, while bringing in massive ratings for the late-night dinosaur – still best known for creating funny sketches, then beating them to mulch. Lohan's worst moments of missed lines and mumbling occurred in one such skit, the exhausted “Scared Straight” bit in which she warns three young criminals they could end up in “rehab in Malibu.” Was she too sick of the dead premise?
But here's the Lohan paradox: The more negative attention that surrounds her, the more famous she gets.
We may be able to summon images of a smiling, healthy Lohan, but others – Lohan unconscious in a car, her mouth cavernously open, her eyes rolled back; Lohan crying, falling in a tangle of high heels, dirt and haute couture – are indelible instances of what has become her true celebrity.
Still, the idea of a clean and sober Lohan is hard to let go of. She was in the news this weekend for dying her hair red again (her natural colour) and for news that she will play Elizabeth Taylor in a made-for-TV biopic.
She may very well be reformed: In late February, her interminable legal issues seemed to be nearing the end when Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Stephanie Sautner praised the star's completion of her community service in a progress report hearing: “We've seen positive progress ... You're in the home stretch! You seem to be getting your life back on track.”
On the Today show, Lohan talked about being clean, about changing “the people I surround myself with” and about focusing on the “positive” and on her acting career, which she loves.
And when Lohan hit the SNL stage, she did look healthy enough to make us forget her tragic recent Playboy shoot, where the beautiful young woman appeared to be erased under a Marilyn Monroe/kabuki mask.
But her mishandling of her SNL lines – she read directly from cue cards throughout – in what should have been a simple performance for the veteran actress, who started modelling at 3 and was an old hand at acting by 10, felt ominous.
More ominous still was her strange rapport with Today show host Matt Lauer, who worked hard to prop her up as “confident” as she stared at him with dead eyes and mouthed platitudes about how working in a morgue for community service was “a humbling experience” and, more poignantly, that next year, she will be fresh for any Oscar appearances she might be invited to make.
The problem with Lohan joining SNL in making fun of her criminal activities and troubles is that there are only so many times you can mock yourself before the mockery is all there is.
In 2009, Lohan made a Funny or Die video, a fake eHarmony ad that mocked a tabloid headline about her abject loneliness. The same year, she posed for a series of the most filthy, sexy photographs imaginable for Muse magazine. The girl in those pictures does look lonely – lonely, stoned and thrillingly perverse. The shoot was the only great work she has done in years and should have led to a great career in noir cinema, not a sad, dumpy tour around the mea culpa track.
In the movie My Week with Marilyn, a sexually frustrated Sir Laurence Olivier screams that Monroe's “little-girl-lost act” is just that, an act, and that she knows exactly what she's doing.
Lohan doesn't seem to know what she's doing. Can she not take a different page from her idol's life and do exactly as she pleases? Not get her “stuff together,” as she earnestly told Lauer, but arrive late, always, sewn into explosive outfits and batting her sleepy lashes?
Of course she should sober up, but can't she project a dangerous, narcotic version of herself, in the retro-manner of Kate Moss or Rooney Mara, or even that great, shark-eyed sphinx, Angelina Jolie?
She may only be 25, but Lohan has as much mileage on her as many women twice her age: While wishing her health and good luck, I wish, too, that someone dark and devious would cast this Blue Angel properly. Then, this time next year, she could be daring SNL or anyone ever to make fun of her again.